European Parliament debates Israel-Hamas war

Picture: Deutsche Welle, FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP

Since the fresh eruption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the European Union has struggled to speak with one voice.

The 27 member states have universally condemned the October 7 assault on Israeli territory by the militant group Hamas, which is classified as a terror organization by the EU, US and other governments. But some EU member states have been much more critical than others of Israel’s response: An onslaught of rockets and a total siege on Gaza, the Palestinian territory ruled by Hamas.

Addressing the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen — who has been under fire for going it alone on foreign policy of late — once again stressed solidarity with Israel.

“Hamas’ terrorists slaughtered over 1,400 men, women, children and babies in one day for one single reason, because they were Jews, just living in the State of Israel, with the explicit goal to eradicate Jewish life,” the German center-right politician said.

Von der Leyen, who traveled to Israel last week, also condemned a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital compound Tuesday night that killed an estimated 500 Palestinians. Israel and Hamas accuse each other of responsibility. “The scenes from Al-Ahli hospital are horrifying and distressing,” von der Leyen said, without pointing fingers in either direction. “There is no excuse for hitting a hospital full of civilians.”

Not for the first time in the past week, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, took a noticeably firmer line on Israel than von der Leyen. “Yes, we condemn these terrible terrorist attacks, but I think we also have to condemn the fact of civilian victims,” Borrell, a center-left Spaniard, told the European Parliament.

“It is clearly stated that depriving a human community under siege of a basic water supply is contrary to international law — in Ukraine and in Gaza,” Borrell said. “If we are unable to say so, for both places, we lack the moral authority necessary to make our voice heard.”


Courtesy of Deutsche Welle